The 4th of July is all about the fireworks. But you’ve got to wait until after dark for that. That leaves you an entire day to … what? Eat hot dogs? Drink American beer? Ruin a Slip ’n’ Slide? Seriously, it’s hot out. Let’s just stay inside where the air-conditioning is and watch TV. It’s our patriotic duty, you know.
As is the case with most holidays, Turner Classic Movies starts us out bright and insomniac-early with a parade of Independence Day-themed Hollywood classics. It starts with 1935’s Ah, Wilderness! (TCM 5:45am), Eugene O’Neill’s look at small town America with Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore. That’s followed by Elia Kazan’s 1963 film America, America (TCM 7:30am), which follows a young Greek immigrant (Stathis Giallelis) who will stop at nothing to get to America. Unsurprisingly, the Revolutionary War gets some major coverage with 1940’s The Howards of Virginia (TCM 10:30am), 1955’s The Scarlet Coat (TCM 12:30pm), 1959’s John Paul Jones (TCM 2:15pm) and 1959’s The Devil’s Disciple (TCM 4:30pm). Patriotic songwriter George M. Cohan gets the biopic treatment (courtesy of James Cagney) in 1942’s classic musical Yankee Doodle Dandy (TCM 6pm). The founding fathers sing their way through the Second Continental Congress in 1972’s 1776 (TCM 8:15pm). From there we skip right to World War II with the 1943 USO tour romp Four Jills in a Jeep (TCM 11:15pm). All the holidays are covered in 1942’s Holiday Inn (TCM 1:15am), which is why TCM breaks it out about six times a year. The Independence Day sequence is just a Fred Astaire dance number, but it’s Fred Astaire. The day closes out at Turner Classic with the 1927 short “The Flag: A Story Inspired by the Tradition of Betsy Ross” (TCM 3:15am).
If you’re looking for some more modern movie fare, there’s Captain America: The First Avenger (FX 4:30pm) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (FX 7pm), which feature the adventures of our country’s most red, white and blue superhero. Or there’s Live Free or Die Hard (TNT 7pm), which features a title adapted from New Hampshire’s state motto and has Bruce Willis battling terrorists in Washington, D.C. What could be more American than that?
The fireworks finally get going in the evening. First up is “Fourth of July at the White House” (Hallmark 6pm). Country singer Sara Evans hosts. But with luck, Donald Trump will stop by to hug a flag and mumble some made-up words to the National Anthem. The “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” (KOB-4 7pm) takes place in midtown Manhattan and features performances by Jennifer Lopez, Lady Antebellum, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley and Hailee Steinfeld. The folks from “American Ninja Warrior” host. Highlights of “A Capitol Fourth” (KNME-5 7pm) include Jimmy Buffett and the Broadway cast of Escape to Margaritaville, The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, The Temptations, The National Symphony Orchestra, The US Army Herald Trumpets and host John Stamos—who, I’m sorry to report, will probably be singing with The Beach Boys. Happy Holiday!